Are you serious about a competitive riding career but don’t own a horse? Follow H&H’s advice for improving your performance and getting noticed.

5-point action plan for success

1. Think positive

“Try to make yourself as busy as possible,” advises Dan Neilson, whose can-do attitude has brought about a rapid climb up the senior ranks.

2. Watch and learn

Do whatever it takes to gain experience in a practical setting. As Pammy Hutton points out: “Richard Branson started off making the coffee.”

3. If you don’t ask…

Blog, tweet or even advertise the fact that you’re after a horse to compete. Be honest, but don’t be afraid to promote yourself in a positive way.

4. Be open-minded

“I’ve ridden dressage with all types,” says Anna Ross Davies, who was a “riding school helper of the year” before hitting the European dressage scene. “I proved myself on those horses. Not having my own made me extremely versatile.”

5. Dream on

A lack of horse didn’t prove a handicap for the likes of Carl Hester, Peter Charles and Emile Faurie – so take inspiration from some of our greatest riders.

Courses, training grants and equitation competitions

Courses, training grants and equitation competitions can give you a much-needed leg-up – and remember these are not necessarily restricted to horse owners. Surf the internet for sport or region-specific opportunities, or try these for starters:

  • Apprenticeships. Hands-on training in reputable yards, which could lead to the chance to compete. British Dressage (www.britishdressage.co.uk) and British Showjumping (www. britishshowjumping.co.uk) offer work-based apprenticeships tailored to their disciplines, with a British Eventing (www.britisheventing.com) version in the pipeline.
  • Awards. Those with the dedication, talent and qualities to become a dressage professional can enter the BD Young Professionals Award. Winners benefit from a £4,000 cash prize to put towards training.
  • Competitions and bursaries. The British Horse Society Equitation Competition (www.bhs.org.uk) is solely for those who don’t own their own horse. And keep an eye out for the winner of the D&H/H&H young rider bursary, which will be announced at the end of September.

    To read the full young rider special see the current issue of H&H (13 September 2012)

    Are you looking for a career in the equestrian industry? View our online database of advertised positions